Musings from Home

Archive for February, 2012

A Murphy’s Law Day

Before I start today’s post, I got a call yesterday from a dear friend, who lives in another state. She was just making sure that everything was okay because I hadn’t written a blog post in a week, which was unusual for me. I was very touched. I also wondered if anyone else had begun to worry about me and my family. So, in case you had wondered if all was hunky dory here, we are fine. It’s been a very busy month for us and we were out-of-town at the end of last week, but thankfully, nothing bad is afoot.

Yesterday, however, was an almost-comical Murphy’s Law kind of day, for me at least. Our puppies sleep in a crate together at night (because they are still very puppy-like and tend to chew on things when not supervised, and they still have accidents sometimes). Jim came downstairs first, as usual, and let them out. When I came down about a half-hour later, dressed in a dry clean only sweater, he informed me that Raine would need a bath because one of them had had an accident overnight and Raine had apparently lain in it and therefore had poop all matted in her fur. [Before anyone starts wondering why he didn’t take care of this himself, he was in the midst of helping to get Emerald ready for school: getting her breakfast, making her lunch, etc., and then he had to head out the door to work. I have no complaints whatsoever with how he spent his morning.]

OK, no problem. We’d get Emerald on the bus, get Sapphire all ready for preschool and then before I took her to preschool, I’d quickly bathe Raine. I could give Riley a bath in the afternoon, when I had more time. Emerald got on the bus. Jim left for work. Sapphire was dressed and had eaten. My plan was to bring Riley in and then take Raine straight up to the bathtub. Consistent with my plan, Riley came to the door first. Contrary to my plan, however, she was a mess! Her feet were covered in mud. She had leaves and pricklies stuck in her tail. There was no way I could leave her like this and go bathe her sister.

So, I carried Riley up to the already-prepped bathtub. Riley is the one of the two who really does not like a bath. She’s sweet about it, but it takes much more effort to keep her in the tub and to actually get her clean. Immediately upon entering the tub and getting wet, she proceeded to shake her body vigorously, to the extent that it sprayed the mud about a quarter of the way up the wall. Not to mention some of it coming in my direction. Oh man, I wasn’t dressed for this. My assistant Sapphire came to my rescue and made sure Riley stayed in the tub, while I changed into a robe. After that, I finished the bath and dried off the little pumpkin. Riley may be difficult to bathe, but she is super easy to dry. She just lays down on the towel happily and lets me rub her down.

One down, one to go. It was Raine’s turn. Quite the opposite of Riley, Raine doesn’t mind a bath so much (which is awesome because she is almost all white and to say she is fluffy is quite the understatement). In fact, Raine stands on two feet, wraps her front paws around my hand for balance and waits out the washing bit. I can’t say she seems to enjoy it, but she doesn’t shake and she doesn’t move. That is until I try to dry her. Also opposite Riley’s practices, this is the time Raine decides to shake for all she’s worth. She’s clean now. It’s time to get rid of the water.

So now I had two clean dogs and a filthy bathroom. I quickly cleaned up and got dressed again, just in time to take Sapphire to preschool and run off to a meeting. Everything went uneventfully for a couple of hours. After my meeting, I ran by the mall to pick up a few much-needed items (since I had time to kill before preschool pick-up). I finished early, so I sat in my car playing on my phone — that is until it rang. It was Emerald. She was in the nurse’s office at school because her stomach hurt. The nurse said she looked flushed and she appeared to feel bad.

Have I mentioned before that the girls’ schools are almost an hour away from each other? I now had to pick Sapphire up in 20 minutes. There’s no way I could get to Emerald’s school, pick her up, and get back to Sapphire’s preschool in time. I told Emerald that I would go get her, but I couldn’t get there until about 1:00. And boy did I feel bad. I also realized that since I didn’t expect to be going anywhere but home, I didn’t have any food for Sapphire in the car. She is always “starving” at pick-up. Oh well, she’d have to understand.

She did complain a bit, but overall she was a trooper. We picked up Emerald and headed home. After a little while of lying down in her room and resting, Emerald perked up and was fine the rest of the night, although she still did have periods of looking flushed. This morning she was fine and went to school.

I should mention that my keyboard also decided yesterday to start sticking on certain keys, the most annoying of which is the space bar. Ugh! I hope the canned air works.

While I am complaining a bit about a day where everything seemed to go wrong, I am the first to admit that none of it was really horrible. And for that I am truly thankful. Here’s to a wonderful Wednesday for all!

I’m sure you all have those kinds of days. What’s the one you remember the most?

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We Have Them, Too

There’s been a lot of talk lately after the release of the book “Bringing up Bébé” about the behavior of American children as compared to French children. I don’t know a lot about that, but I have noticed some pretty amazing American children lately (other than my own, whom I think the world of, as you know).

A little over a week ago, Sapphire and I took eclairs to Emerald’s school to celebrate Emerald’s birthday with her friends. We were there at the end of the day, as the children were finishing up their last assignment. When they were done, had finished the treat we’d brought, and had packed up to go home, the kids who wanted to were allowed to play a game they call “Quiet Ball”, in which they stand in a circle and toss a ball back and forth around the circle. The rules are simple: the kids are to remain quiet, the ball must be thrown between the shoulders and the knees of the person catching it, “zingers” are not allowed, and if you miss the ball or break one of the rules, you are out. The game continues until there is only one child left or until dismissal.

Sapphire, Emerald, and I watched for a few minutes. Then, Sapphire said that she wanted to play. Emerald’s teacher instructed the kids that if Sapphire were to play, they would have to throw the ball to her gently. Without being asked, one of the boys left the circle and went over to Sapphire to teach her how to play. He asked her to put her hands out, then he very gently tossed the ball to her. She got a little shy and backed away, so he suggested Emerald show her how to play. Emerald tossed it to her and this time she caught it. She and Emerald then joined the game. The kids (mostly boys, as many of the girls chose not to play that day) threw the ball back and forth to each other, but each time one threw it in Sapphire’s direction, the thrower made a point of lobbing it very softly to her. They even amended the rules a little for her: She was never out, even if she dropped it, threw it over someone’s shoulder, or “zinged” it.

One by one, the kids got out of the game, but Sapphire remained. Eventually, there were only two standing, Sapphire and a little boy I’ll call Peter. Peter seemed to enjoy the game with Sapphire. At the very end, just as dismissal was approaching, Sapphire threw the ball over Peter’s shoulder, a clear violation of the rules. Peter smiled real big and said, “You beat me!” He seemed like he couldn’t be happier for her. She was ecstatic to have won. Peter congratulated her, told her she played a great game, and then picked up his backpack and headed for his bus.

Watching these 10-year-old boys play with a 5-year-old little girl and be so sweet to her just warmed my heart. Emerald’s teacher explained that several of these boys either have little sisters close to Sapphire’s age or are good friends with someone who does, so they are used to playing with a little kid her age. But in my mind that doesn’t totally explain it. They may be used to having to include a little kid, but they truly seemed to enjoy it and rather than act resentful that they had to let her play, they made her feel like a star. These were great kids, behaving just as any parent would hope they would.

The next day, Emerald had her birthday party at home, a sleepover. She invited five girls, three of whom could come. At dinner (which incidentally was breakfast for dinner), Jim and I were still serving up food at the stove when the kids were all set to start eating. As one of the kids took a bite, another bent her head and said a silent blessing. I was so proud of her. She kept to her own traditions even though she wasn’t sure anyone else was going to say a blessing. She did not worry about anyone’s reaction. I have noticed this with this particular child before and I am always super impressed. This kid knows who she is and always stays true to that, no matter what others do. I’ve seen her ride through the neighborhood on a stick unicorn, happy as a lark. I’ve seen her drink water in a pizza place, while the other kids are mixing up soda concoctions. This is not a kid who is swayed by peer pressure in the least (although I have never seen any of the other kids exert pressure on her). She quietly and happily sticks to her own likes and traditions, and follows what her parents have taught her, even when she’s not with them.

There may be many parenting issues in this country and there may be many kids with attitude and behavior issues, but I have witnessed a bunch of kids in recent weeks who appear to have been raised to respect others, be polite, and stay true to themselves. I just wanted to take this opportunity to point out that while social trends in parenting may have gone in a direction that many feel is not the best approach, there are still many good kids out there. And I can’t help but smile at that.

Back in Time

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to attend a Girls’ Night Out to see an 80s cover band on February 18th (this past Saturday). The friend who invited me, Jen, implied in the invitation that we would be dressing and doing make-up like in the 1980s. I was very intrigued by the invitation and jumped at the chance for a girls’ night out. But I wasn’t really keen on the whole dressing up thing. As I have mentioned before, I am not comfortable going out in public unless I think I look “just so”. I also had no idea what I would wear, as I wasn’t sure I remembered 80s attire very well and even if I could remember, I surely had nothing in my closet that would fit the bill.

I know Jen well enough to know that she would surely rock the 80s look and the others who had accepted the invitation seemed to be quite psyched about pulling together “the look”. So in my mind, it was either step up to the plate or stay home. As the time got closer, I Googled “1980s style” and was quickly brought back up to speed on all the varied looks of the time. I was also flabbergasted to see a picture of a girl that really could have been my class picture from 1981. It wasn’t me, but the sweater, Oxford shirt, hair, and make-up were me that year to a tee. I realized I could do this. More than that, I realized I was getting excited to do this.

So I began my plan. Too bad I didn’t have any Izod and Oxford shirts, boat shoes, or sweatshirt with the neck and sleeves cut off and the inside-out seaming around anymore (and haven’t had for about 30 years). I got a tip from Jen that Old Navy had the “Flashdance” sweatshirts on sale for $8.00. After checking with her that she didn’t mind having the same shirt, I headed to the store to score one. While there, I found a facsimile of “boat shoes”. I was on a roll.

I followed the Facebook page Jen had created for the event with interest to see what everyone else was planning. Most were mentioning a particular style they were going for: the Sheena look, the Belinda Carlisle look, the Molly Ringwald look. Originally I thought about going for the Molly look, but when I found that picture online that could’ve been me, I realized the look I was shooting for was me circa 1984.

This is how I looked then:

My h.s. senior class picture, 1984

And this is how I looked last night:

Me - Back to the 80s

I wish I had pictures of my girls’ faces when they saw me. I certainly didn’t look like me. I think the style of the 80s blew them away temporarily. They were happy that I had borrowed from both of them (bangles from Sapphire and a purse from Emerald). They recovered quickly and told me I looked very 80s (although I’m not sure either of them knows what that means) and that I looked great. Sapphire even said that I was the most beautiful woman of the 80s. 🙂

The ladies and I met up at Jen’s house, oohed and awed over each other’s looks, checked out each other’s make-up, had hors d’oeuvres, and mingled. Jen even named each of us for our 80s style. She called me Heather (as in Locklear):

[Photo credit: www.izismile.com]

After about an hour or so, we headed out to the theater. The show itself was less than stellar. The opening band was a 90s Alternative Rock cover band and they were imho not very good. The feature band wasn’t much better. The lead singer was crude and crass, so much so that my friends and I dreaded every time he opened up his mouth to speak. I knew maybe three of the songs. I was more of a Journey, Police, Queen fan in the 80s. This was more Motley Crue, Metallica, Poison.

There was also the requisite fight for shows of this type. From somewhere in the front, this fight pushed backwards toward us like a fast-moving wave. We saw it right before it got to where we were standing. We quickly moved to our right, along with everyone else around us. And we kept moving to the right as the fight seemed to continually drift in our direction. It was over as quickly as it erupted, with one of the guys’ friends pushing him to the side past us and out of sight.

But who cares????? The night was fabulous!! I was with some fantastic women and we had a blast, just being out on the town together.

As for the being out of my comfort zone issue. I did feel a little odd at first, especially when only a small percentage of the attendees of the concert were dressed to the nines in 80s gear, but I soon got over that. It was too much fun just being with ladies who were rocking the whole experience. It was also fun seeing the outfits of those who did dress the part, especially those who most certainly were not born yet in the 80s. And the best part, was the realization that if I can go out in public in 2012, dressed as if I stepped back in time to 1984, on a day other than Halloween, then I must be cured.

I must confess to one small misstep, however. Check out my feet:

I had tried to pick out 80s-looking socks. I remembered during the show that we wore these shoes without socks back in the day. [Palm on forehead. :)] Oh well.

Check out Jen on the Edge and Justus4carters for more pictures from the evening and their takes on the whole night.

How would you dress if you were going to an 80s event?

A Virologist’s Valentines

I’ve read many blogs today that talk about the silliness of celebrating love one day a year. A true relationship doesn’t need a commercialized holiday. True love isn’t about mad passion and roses. True love is about being there for each other and being able to rely on each other — every day.

In theory, I agree with all of this. But in practice, Valentine’s Day is rather special to Jim and me. Not because the calendar tells us it should be. Not because Hallmark stocks special cards for that day. Not because a dozen roses is much more expensive on that day than on any other. No, Valentine’s Day is special because of two special memories it holds.

Twelve years ago today, Jim came home with a balloon for me and planned on a special dinner and a relaxing evening. What he got instead was a stressed out wife who needed to make the final changes to her doctoral dissertation and get it to her committee members the next day, as her private dissertation defense was just 10 days away. We had a quick dinner and I headed downstairs to the office in the basement.

In the middle of the night, after working for hours, I woke Jim up in tears and freaking out because my computer suddenly would not save any of my changes. Mind you, this dissertation monstrosity is 165 pages long and I had been writing it for about two months (and had been researching it for about 6 1/2 years). Always my personal tech guru, Jim went downstairs with me and together we tried to figure out what was going on. We spent the entire rest of the night getting the computer to listen, and then printing out this long document. Neither of us will ever forget it, because how do you say “I love you” better than saving your wife’s sanity, even if it literally means no sleep?

A year later, we had a much happier Valentine’s Day. We brought Emerald home for the very first time. Our very best Valentine ever!!

So every year, we mark the occasion, as we would an anniversary. We buy each other a small gift or two (usually candy, or flowers, or stuffed animals) and sometimes a card. And we commemorate these two events that are forever in our hearts and minds. It’s not the only day that we remember what we mean to each other, but it is one of many throughout the year that we stop to acknowledge some of the special (and not so special at the time) experiences we have shared. Neither of us would trade one second of being there together, even the “bad” seconds.

We also give the kids a little something. This year, they wanted to get something for us, too, and for each other. We all kept it small and fun.

So what would a virologist give her family members on Valentine’s Day? Well, germs of course!

Mad Cow Disease for Jim,

the Kissing Disease (a.k.a. Mono) for Emerald (mostly because it’s purple, cute, and has eyelashes),

and the Common Cold for Sapphire (because it’s cute, and because it’s the one germ she could tell her teachers her mom gave her for Valentine’s Day without them wondering what goes on in this house :)).

Just as I hoped, all three of my valentines were thrilled with their new illnesses. I may be a geek, but thankfully, I’m married to one, too, and we’re raising two very proud little geeklings.

Happy Valentine’s to you all, however you celebrate it. Or if you don’t, happy halfway-through February day (or almost halfway for this year, since it is a leap year)!

Adventures in Cake Baking

For Emerald’s birthday this year, I asked her, as I always do, what kind of cake she wanted. She answered, German chocolate. “With the traditional coconut pecan icing?” I asked. That was exactly what she had in mind. The next question, which in hindsight, perhaps I shouldn’t have asked, was, “Do you want it in any particular shape or do you want a round layer cake?

Hmmm, what shape would Emerald choose these days? Why baton-shaped, of course! Doubting that baton-shaped cake pans were readily available, I told her I’d give it a shot.

I have made lots of cakes in my time, including: horse-shaped cakes (two or three times),

castle cakes (twice),

and a guitar-shaped cake.

I even attempted a Barney cake when Emerald was really little and Barney was her favorite thing in the world. [I say attempted because I couldn’t get the purple just right, so it just looked like your standard purple dinosaur, but Emerald didn’t mind.]

How hard could a baton be, really? Batons are thin, straight rods with bulbous ends. Easy peasy, right?

So I looked online and scored a couple long thin loaf pans. I figured I’d make it two layers since it would be rather narrow. I would also bake a rectangular cake, from which to cut the layers for the ends. I Googled “baton-shaped cake” and read some helpful tips from a mom who had made one of these masterpieces before. I had this thing all planned in my head. No problem.

My adventure began at about 5:00 Friday evening. The girls and I whipped up the cake batter, poured it into the well-greased pans, and got the layers baking.

When the cakes were ready, they easily slipped from the pans. Like I said, no problem. Everything was going according to my script. I would have this thing done before the kids went to bed.

I overestimated my abilities, or underestimated the power of Murphy’s Law.

After the layers had cooled completely, and Jim had cut a piece of cardboard for me to assemble this long cake on, I cut the ends out of the rectangular cake, ignoring the online advice to freeze the cake first to lessen the crumbling. I had iced cut cakes before and hadn’t had too much of a problem with that, so this was an unnecessary step, or so I told myself.

Well, it turns out German chocolate cakes are softer than most, and crumble a lot when cut. But that was just the beginning of my problems.

Emerald had decided she wanted the coconut pecan icing on the main part of the baton, but she wanted the ends purple. Again, no biggie. I decided to use the coconut pecan icing as the filling between all the layers. I have made several German chocolate cakes in my time, but I had never noticed the consistency of the icing before. When I put it on the ends of the “baton rod”, it slowly slid down to the foil-covered cardboard beneath the cake. Same thing with the sides of the cake. I’m flexible and creative, right? I can make this work. So I plodded on.

First layer done, time to add the second layer. Remember I said how soft this cake was? Well, as I was icing the top layer, I noticed the ends were pulling away from the center piece and leaning to the side. They also suddenly were not as tall as the center piece. As I worked on ways to fix that problem, I noticed the center piece was also dipping down at the ends. Apparently, the top layers were crushing the bottom layers. The coconut pecan icing was also not sticking to the sides of the cake or the edges of the top. It was slowly slipping to the cardboard below.

The cake was a total wash. It was now nearing 10:00 and I could not figure any way to fix this mess. I started freaking out. Emerald wanted a baton cake. She had told everyone she knew that I was making her a baton cake. How proud she was . . . and I had failed. The late hour didn’t help my emotional state.

Back to the store for supplies. I was going to try again. I had figured out a new strategy. Since having two layers seemed to be a major problem, the second attempt would only be one layer. I also realized that there was probably a reason that most professionally made German chocolate cakes I’d seen had the coconut pecan icing only on the top, and chocolate icing on the sides. So, my new plan was to do the same. The ends would still be purple, as Emerald had requested. And perhaps most importantly, I would freeze the layer I intended to cut for the ends, prior to cutting, to make icing work this time easier .

Armed with supplies and a new plan, I started the second cake around 11:00. I was planning to finish the entire thing before I went to bed in order to surprise Emerald with the finished product when she awoke, but at 1:30 Saturday morning, Jim convinced me that I would be better able to trouble-shoot any issues I encountered this time if I got some sleep and tackled the assembly and decorating with a fresh brain.

In the morning, I told Emerald of my previous night’s fiasco, told her I was trying my best, but I just wasn’t sure I could do this. I told her I was trying again, but if it didn’t work this time, we’d have to buy a cake and decorate it with a baton and her name. It wasn’t what she wanted. It wasn’t what I wanted, but it was a back-up plan and she was a good sport about it.

With all eyes on me (figuratively, because I sent them all out of the room), I began my second attempt at assembly. I got all the icing ready, put the “ends” layer in the freezer for 15 minutes, and began icing the baton middle. I then cut the ends, breathed a huge sigh of relief when they looked decent and didn’t crumble, and put the baton together. To my immense relief, this time all of the icing stayed in place, as did the pieces. And we had something that kinda sorta resembled a baton. I decorated it up a little and held my breath as I called Emerald in to see it.

All my effort (and previous failure) was worth it when I saw her face light up. You would think that girl saw the most beautiful thing in the world. She was ecstatic! She urged me to take a picture to show her twirling coach (who had asked us to take one). I did as instructed.

We found a spot up high to store the cake, where the cats were unlikely to get to it, and rushed off to twirling class, picture in hand.

When Emerald’s friends arrived later for a sleepover, she excitedly told them I had made a cake in the shape of a baton. She couldn’t wait to show it to them. And yesterday, when she had another friend, who couldn’t make the party, over for a playdate, she enthusiastically showed her the picture, before sharing some of the leftovers.

It certainly isn’t professional looking, but as happy as it made my girl, I don’t care in the least. Afterall, how can you be more successful than that reaction from the guest of honor?

Next year, I’ll think twice before I agree to try a shape for which there isn’t a cake pan (yeah, sure I will). But for this year, it worked out just fine — WAY better than fine, actually. 🙂

Eleven

Tomorrow, this little baby

and this 5-year-old

turns 11.

This is when I would usually talk about how fast the last eleven years have gone or how I’d like to slow down time because my little girl is growing up WAY too fast.

But while both of those things are true, today I’m thinking about how much I love the person Emerald is, and the one she’s becoming. She is a very thoughtful, caring, kind, helpful person, in addition to being smart as a whip, creative, artistic, talented, hardworking, and beautiful. She has got to be the most empathetic person I’ve ever met in my life. She has a true gift for knowing how others are feeling and figuring out how she can help. She is also a wonder with animals. They take to her; they always have.

I also love all the things we can do with her now, now that she’s old enough to enjoy them. This particular train of thought has been gaining speed for a while now. The last two New Year’s Eves, she has made it until midnight, making for a particularly special time. We planned the first part of the night around dinner and then games all four of us enjoy. Then we planned the late night (after 8:30 or 9:00) around movies Emerald, Jim, and I wanted to watch. There was lots of conversation, lots of fun togetherness, and lots of excitement that she was really staying up. At midnight, we toasted the New Year with sparkling apple cider, said goodnight, and hit the hay.

Last weekend, we had another such special evening built around the Super Bowl. No one in our family is a huge fan of either the Patriots or the Giants. Around here, we’re big time Redskins fans (be nice! :)). But, as I used to live in Boston and have therefore had a second tier allegiance of sorts to the Patriots, and since we all agreed that any team that couldn’t beat our dear Redskins this year (the ‘Skins only won 5 games all season, but beat the Giants both times the two teams met) didn’t deserve to be NFL Champs, we rooted for the Patriots. But mostly, it was a family time for us. Sapphire fell asleep just before half-time, but Emerald was very excited to see the commercials (which we promised her were the best part) and the half-time show, so she stayed awake longer. We cheered together. Emerald made up cheers. We chatted. We had the best time, even if our team wasn’t there. And I have to tell you, it was so much fun watching her enjoy Madonna’s performance so much. Madonna, a performer of my era. Emerald is now a fan of her music.

It’s sharing moments like this: sharing memories of my younger days, watching her enjoy things her dad and I enjoyed not that long ago as young, single people, that really highlight how wonderful this age is. She’s old enough to want to hear what we think and to know about our childhood and young adult experiences, but young enough to want to hear what we think and to know about our childhood and young adult experiences. 🙂

I have had more heart-to-heart conversations with Emerald in the last year than I would have imagined. She wants my advice and my opinions, and I love hearing what she thinks and feels about things. She also still likes to cuddle sometimes and she still loves hugs.

What I’m saying is this in-between age — in between being a little kid and being too cool for her parents — is pretty darn awesome, just like she is. I’ll take it and I hope it lasts for more than a second or two, which is how long her young childhood seemed to last (yes, I had to go there). 🙂

Happy Eleventh Birthday, Emerald!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I love you bunches and am so proud of you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Three Words

Emerald was recently asked to list three words that she feels describe her. Without any hesitation at all, she rattled off: smart, talented, pretty, in that order. Jim and I were elated. It makes us all kinds of happy that she did not have any problem coming up with positive words about herself, and she didn’t have any reservation about sharing those thoughts. Smart, talented, pretty . . . all of those describe my Emerald very well. I could add at least a dozen more.

She then asked me what words I would choose to describe myself. Tellingly, I didn’t have as easy a time coming up with my three and not being critical. I thought for a brief moment and then answered, “Intelligent, thoughtful, um . . .” I wanted to say “witty”, but I wondered if that were true. Do others think I’m witty? Darn it, I couldn’t even name three positive things about myself without doubting their veracity. And how did I measure how true they were? By the opinions of others (as perceived by me). How silly is that?

Luckily for me, Emerald processed my two replies and moved onto her dad, not noticing that I had only given her two answers. Surprisingly (at least to me), Jim had as tough of a time naming his attributes as I did mine. He jokingly rattled off negative things, “annoying . . .” I can’t even remember the other two. Emerald laughed, we all started joking, and the subject was left there.

So why can’t we, as adults, say positive things about ourselves without feeling weird? I know I am intelligent, kind (usually), thoughtful, attractive, witty, and even more, but to say it out loud feels arrogant and may invite comment by others. Comment that I’m not sure I want.

It’s an odd dichotomy. On the one hand, I don’t want others to contradict my opinion of my qualities. But on the other, when people are too complimentary, I feel like I can’t possibly live up to their impression of me. So I end up feeling like a phony and wanting to “come clean” that I am not all that they think I am. Insecurity? Maybe, but also the knowledge that no one is perfect, certainly not I.

I also don’t want to come across as being self-centered and conceited. Who goes around saying, “I am awesome,” except a total jerk? In our society, we raise our children to not be boastful, and that is a good thing. But somewhere along the way, we become hesitant to acknowledge our good points, unless we’re applying for a job, in which case “putting our best face forward” is a must. Ordinarily, though, it’s polite to be modest. Again, that’s a good thing, but modesty can also lead to the inability to voice one’s attributes.  A double-edged sword.

I am so thankful, and frankly “over the moon” that Emerald does not have any of these issues. It is my job (along with Jim) to make sure she never does. To make sure that she will inherently know the difference between being able to voice her strengths and boasting. And that she will always be able to recognize her good qualities. I’m afraid that’ll be easier said than done, especially through the teen years, but I feel it’s an important part of parenting, especially these days, with societal pressures and judgments more prevalent than ever. I want my daughters (both of them) to always be able to say, “I am beautiful,” something so many women struggle with today.

What three words would you use to describe yourself?

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